VIDEO: NASA cites urgency of melting ice sheets

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The melting West Antarctic ice sheet is past the point of no return, two studies found Monday and scientists say the melt will change coastlines and create the need to revise all sea level rise projects by at least 3 feet.

Although it’s smaller than the East Antarctic ice sheet, the West Antarctic ice sheet is particularly vulnerable to melting from warm ocean waters because it sits on top of bedrock below sea level, NASA said. If it melts completely, it could add 13 feet of water to sea level, Business Insider reported.

Scientific papers by the journals Science and Geophysical Research Letters came to similar conclusions by different means, according to The New York Times.

Both groups of scientists found that West Antarctic glaciers had retreated far enough to set off an inherent instability in the ice sheet, one that experts have feared for decades.

NASA called a telephone press conference Monday to highlight the urgency of the findings.

In one of the new papers, a team led by Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the University of California, Irvine, used satellite and air measurements to document an accelerating retreat during the past several decades of six glaciers draining into the Amundsen Sea region.

“Today we present observational evidence that a large sector of the West Antarctic ice sheet has gone into irreversible retreat,” Rignot said at the NASA press conference. “It has passed the point of no return.”

Those six glaciers alone could cause the ocean to rise four feet as they disappear, Rignot said, possibly within a couple of centuries. He also said their disappearance will most likely destabilize other sectors of the ice sheet, so the ultimate rise could be triple that.

A separate team led by Ian Joughin of the University of Washington studied one of the most important glaciers, Thwaites, using sophisticated computer modeling, coupled with recent measurements of the ice flow. That team also found that a slow-motion collapse had become inevitable. Even if the warm water now eating away at the ice were to dissipate, it would be “too little, too late to stabilize the ice sheet,” Joughin said. “There’s no stabilization mechanism.”


10 comments on “VIDEO: NASA cites urgency of melting ice sheets

  1. J L Fuller

    So here is another “global warming” fear story to propagate. How about printing the data from scientists that shows that the normal freeze/thaw cycle of the huge quantities of frozen methane on the bottom of the oceans create enough bubbles of thawed methane that come to the surface and then into the atmosphere has just about crossed the line with the amount of CO2 that is entering the atmosphere. Methane is a far more dangerous gas than CO2. CO2 net releases have improved substantially over the last 25 years and we likely have passed the point of cost effectiveness of further CO2 controls.

    The release of methane from the Arctic is in itself a contributor to global warming as a result of polar amplification. Recent observations in the Siberian arctic show increased rates of methane release from the Arctic seabed. Land-based permafrost, also in the Siberian arctic, was also recently observed to be releasing large amounts of methane, estimated at 3.8 million tons per year – significantly above previous estimates.

    The fact that many claim that the Earth is warming is tempered by other analysis from credible scientists who have provided data that shows that the Earth is in a normal warming cycle and that these have happened long before man starting using products that send CO2 into the atmosphere.

    The last 10 or 20 years of fussing about this matter is but a point on the scale of time for the Earth. No one wants to discuss ALL of the science, just the part that supports their opinions.

  2. LARRY

    It is disturbing, but what’s worse is that there is little any one country or culture can do at this point. The biggest challenge is not just merely or simply agreeing that, the entire global community has a problem. Basically it appears it will require a mutual effort by all or most of the nations in the world. Unless we can globally and collectively agree to tackle it, by joining hands, with mutual financial support, dealing with, and embarking on a new human concept; mutual trust, thus making sincere efforts ignoring our differences and greed, and embracing a new goal. Not an easy task as it may require shifting or diverting global military expenses, which combined the world over, probably equals to more than a quadrillion. Using such might and power to finally benefit mankind, instead of constantly trying to annihilate each other because of religion, culture differences, acquisition of land and resources, language or any other excuse nations of the world have used in the past……..Due to my present advanced age, I don’t see it happening within my life time, and due to extreme human consciousness shift needed, my realistic estimate is that we may wait till the water is coming in and jeopardizing or wiping water front towns, storms and nature violently shows the negative side effects of such climatic changes, before we realize what’s really at stake. Disturbing indeed!

  3. Lawrence Warner

    Lets see it took 15 years to prove that ethanol actually pollutes more than straight gasoline.
    Last year it was Greenland this year it is Antarctica.100 years ago London was polluted enough to you couldn’t see clearly and they had record cold. This year has been the coldest 4 months on record for the USA. Time for cool heads to sit down and put the facts not hype together.

  4. George Edwards

    Woo Hoo! Just think of all the boats I’ll be selling to the climate change believers!

    Mean while back in the Antarctic, 63rd daily record of sea ice…

    Lake Superior still has 20% ice cover…

    NOAA “slowest start to tornado activity in any year in modern record, and possible nearly a century”!

    National Hurricane Center reports: “there were no major hurricanes in the north Atlantic basin for the first time since 1994, and the number of hurricanes this year was the lowest since 1982”.

  5. Capt Lou

    Many articles like the one above claim record ice coverage in Antarctic, just the opposite of what government scientists claim in this story.

    I, like every 5th grader know, archimedes principle – the weight of the ice alredy displaces the volume of water it is floating in. Melting ice cubes do not make a glass of water overflow. If it was really attached to the bottom of the ocean, then that would be different, but then how is it moving?

  6. Hugh Betcha

    If it’s inevitable, why not get a keg and start partying? The hysteria of the climate change crowd is over the top and it’s good to finally see some real pushback from the public.

  7. Phin Sprague

    I am not impressed that you decided to disseminate this article. This NASA article is complete propaganda and explains why the Government has lost it’s credibility. This administration is using formerly respected government agencies to move it’s failed agendas forward. I have a degree in Geology. I have background so I am not impressed or scared. Any one who pays any attention to the drivel has no science background and doesn’t have the ability or interest in accessing the actual information. Hold on to your hats this is a PRIDICTION based upon models which can’t even acknowledge or show any skill in the present let alone the future. We have the HIGHEST ice now in decades. The average temperature in Antarctica is -58F the temperature would have to skyrocket, the rate cited is faster than the sea level rose in the Holocene when there was a 20 degree temperature increase and the continental glaciers were extensive and melting. The ice in the Becon valley in Antartica is over 2 million years old. Doesn’t even pass the stink test!

    This is just a political campaign here is how it goes they put out a tv movie series which no one paid any attention to, then they, with great hype, published a flawed National CLimate Assessment and now the compromised government Agencies I used to respect are spouting easily disproved drivel. Predictions are not data; nodels have to have SOME skill at predication or they are garbage this is garbage.

    I am sick of it, explain how 22 boats expecting an “ice free Arctic” and an idyllic summer cruise were trapped by ice in the NW passage last summer. ” who stole the heat?” The predictions failed miserably heh models show no skill…. throw away the predictions and recognize the difference. No one would put up with this lack of skill in their own businesses. Why put up with it from these guys? Never attribute to stupidity that which can be easily attributed to malice. Just thinkin’ can you? I suggest any one interested in the actual scientific debates including the arguments and the data go to WUWT ( Watts Up With That) and read the ORIGINAL articles and information.

  8. Old Dinghy

    Please publish this incredible “test” of what is happening in the environment, and stop all this pathetic political power grab histrionics we’re being subjected to in the media. The link is a couple of years old, but the information is as relevant now as then. Anyone with even a slight interest in geology or Earth science should be able to “tap the brakes” and relax and enjoy the majesty of natural changes.

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